Welcome to Part Two of Confessions of a Reviewer's interview with David Bernstein.
In tonight’s section, David starts by answering some specific questions on his new books Skinner and Goblins, continues to talk about his writing and life in general and tackles The Ten Confessions (Nine in his case)
It’s Monday so go grab something boring like lasagne, a coke, sit back, but most of all……enjoy!
COAR - Moving on to Skinner, where did the idea come from for this one? What did you want to get out of it?
DB - My parents had a summer house on Lake Champlain in upstate New York. We used to go there during the winter, too. We had to travel over a mountain and I remember when it snowed how treacherous it could be. Who would save us or even find us if we tumbled down into the forest? And I love tales—book or movie—that take place in the snow. I love '80's slashers and survival horror. I had written Witch Island—another '80's-like slasher that takes place on an island in the summer involving high school kids. I wanted to write something similar that took place in the mountains in the winter, but make it different at the same time. Both books are quite complimentary of one another. But with Skinner, I wanted to give the feeling of total hopelessness and seclusion.
COAR - It has an old ‘80’s movie feel about it. Was that intentional or just the way it came?
DB - Intentional. I wanted a "winter" book that could sit right beside Witch Island.
COAR - There is a certain amount of typical slasher horror but also an element of psychological horror mixed in as well. Normally you get one or the other in a story. How did you decide how much of each to include and did you worry that one would outweigh the other?
DB - No worries at all. I like to mix things up and combine elements. Whereas Witch Island is a lot more slasher/gore, Skinner was more evened out so that there was a bit of both, if not more psychological. I think both can work together well and only enhance the dread.
COAR - There is one scene in the middle of this story that put me off food for an entire day. The one that possibly gives the book its title? Do you know if that’s possible or did you just make it up?
DB - I'm pretty sure I know the scene. I don't know for certain if it’s possible, but it just might be, especially with the proper tools and if the person's skin is strong enough not to tear.
EDIT: He just made me sick again, remembering the scene!
COAR - There is a possibility to continue this story. Have you any plans to do that?
DB - No plans as of yet. I'm working on a number of other projects. What I can tell you is that I am working on a sequel to The Unhinged.
COAR - Your book coming out in August, Goblins, is more of a straight monster slasher. Where did this one come from?
DB - I wanted to write a story involving small terrifying creatures and thought goblins would be wonderfully evil. I know goblins are traditionally a sword and sorcery/fantasy element, but I wanted to make them a horror thing. There is a bit of fantasy in the story, but I try to "horrify it". Also, I love the whole Roanoke Island/Croatoan mystery and wanted to write something involving it.
Every time the subject is mentioned in a book or movie, my interest is piqued as to where the story is going to go. So I wrote my own.
And heck, doesn't everyone like goblins?
COAR - Was this one also inspired by old ‘80’s horror stories or any books? I mention in my review similarities between this and Ronald Kelly’s Fear or James Newman’s The Wicked. Was it your intention to write it in this sort of vain?
DB - Oh yeah. Goblins is a total gore-filled, action-horror, wild ride. A FUN book, as I like to call it. My bud Kristopher Rufty said it reminded him of the old Zebra horror novels, and I think he hit it right on the head.
EDIT: According to Wikipedia, Zebra published seven of Ronald Kelly's novels from 1990 to 1996 so I agree with Mr Rufty!
COAR - You certainly don’t shy away from wiping out characters the reader would expect to be in a story for a long time in Goblins. Where do you draw the line on this or would you be happy to wipe everyone out if you thought the story needed it?
DB - Everyone is game at any time. I don't want the reader to feel comfortable when they read one of my stories.
COAR - In Goblins as with Skinner you don’t have big elaborate character build ups or descriptions. I think this is great because you just get on with the story. Is this intentional or just the way it comes to you?
DB - I think, for the most part, I am a story-first writer. Especially with slashers. I like to focus on the villains, give a little about the people, but not too much. Too much and it isn't slasheresque anymore. I do have novels where there is much more character development and they are gore-filled horror too, but not 80s slasher-like in style. Damaged Souls, Amongst the Dead, Tears of No Return, Apartment 7C and The Unhinged are all more character driven.
COAR - Again this has potential for a continuation. Is this something you plan to do? Do you think there is more blood to spill?
DB - There might be. At least a novella involving a certain character named Maggot.
COAR - What would your ultimate wish be with your writing?
DB - To be able to continue to do it throughout the years consistently, growing my readership and keeping them thrilled. Oh, and I wouldn't mind if Hollywood called.
COAR - What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
DB - I like to read. It's pleasure but also work. Every writer needs to read, and read a variety of authors—and genres if they can. I like watching movies, playing video games—I've never outgrown them, camping and just hanging out with friends and family. I used to study martial arts, but haven't done so in a few years.
COAR - What’s coming in the future from David Bernstein?
DB - I have a book called The Sludge coming from Great Old Ones Publishing, a novella from Samhain entitled Blue Demon—about an action figure that comes to life and wreaks havoc, a bizarro book from Bizarro Pulp Press/Journalstone tentatively titled Retch, Machines of the Dead 3—the final installment from Severed Press, Episodes of Violence (solo project) and Jackpot 2 and 3 from Sinister Grin Press, and a few others for Samhain and other publishers.
THE TEN CONFESSIONS
1 Who would you view as your main competitor in the writing world?
Myself. Seriously. It's up to me if I succeed and grow.
2 What book or author have you read that you think should never have been published?
Can't think of one. (wink)
Edit: After the Confessions panel sat, they decided that this answer was a cop out. Unfortunately after repeated attempts at getting an actual confession out of David none were forthcoming. After the review is posted on Tuesday I will be starting a Facebook campaign to get this confession out of David!
3 Are any of the things your characters have experienced in your books been based on something that has actually happened to you? What was it?
I wrote a short story (non-horror) about a kid who gets bullied and how he stands up to the bully. It is based on a real life experience I had, but of course not the whole thing is true. I embellished a bit at the end. It was published in an antho called School Days. Good luck finding it.
4 Have you ever blatantly stolen an idea or scene and adapted it for one of your own books? If so, care to share?
Never. If a writer needs to do that, he/she should find a new hobby/career.
Stealing is stealing and doing such a thing in the writing world is a death sentence.
5 Have you ever anonymously left a bad review for someone else’s book? If so, care to share?
No. If I don't have anything nice to say about someone's book I say nothing. I only leave reviews for books I like.
6 What’s the one thing you are least proud of doing in your life and why?
Not paying as much attention in school/college as I should have. I feel I wasted a lot of time worrying about partying and having fun.
7 What’s the one thing you are MOST proud of doing in your life and why?
There's a lot, but since this is about writing and publishing I'd say getting published and receiving many more positive things about my writing than negative.
8 What’s your biggest fault?
Bad memory when it comes to certain things, like people's names right after meeting them, and reading. I really need to read books twice to remember all the details and stuff.
9 What is your biggest fear?
I really don't have a BIGGEST one I dwell on. Spiders freak me out. They serve a great purpose and all, but YUCK! I do not like flying on a plane. I'll do it if I must, but I just do not like it. Actually, it's the before the flight feeling I hate.
Once I'm in the air, I'm good.
10 If you had to go to confession now, what would be the one thing you would need to get off your chest?
I've never watched Grease straight through. Don't tell Sandy.
Edit: After careful consideration, the Confessions Panel again decided this was not a good enough answer and asked for a second. This is what came back.
I threw a couple of house parties when my parents were away. The parties were quite popular and people still talk about them today. Ahh, to reminisce. I even had one where cops showed up (yes I knew them) and hung out while on duty.
Edit: Still a bit lame but accepted!
Well that unfortunately is the end of the Confessions interview with David. I think you will agree that apart from the confessions, David gave you all the info you would ever need to know about himself.
Just in case you do have a craving to find out more, remember to come back tomorrow night when I will be publishing my review of Skinner and also posting all the links you need to buy David’s books and follow him on his author page and website.
As always I would just like to say a huge thanks to David for taking time out to take part and for putting up with my constant emails and questions.
Thanks again for visiting Confessions of a Reviewer!